Thousands of Indian Americans among 5.5M hit by Hurricane Irna

India’s External Affairs Ministry is monitoring the situation and communicating with the Indian diaspora in the US, Venezuela, France and the Netherlands in the wake of deadly Hurricane Irma that has affected more than 5.5 million people.

The ministry’s spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the Indian missions in the four countries were in touch with local government officials to provide assistance to the affected Indians.

“Our missions in Venezuela, the Netherlands, France and the US are constantly monitoring the situation following destruction due to hurricane Irma. They are in constant touch with the Indian diaspora affected by Irma and with local government officials to provide all possible assistance,” Kumar said in a series of tweets.

Over five million people, including thousands of Indian-Americans, have been asked to evacuate from parts of coastal Florida after Hurricane Irma, an extremely powerful Category 5 storm, barrelled towards the state after wrecking havoc on the Caribbean islands, media reports said.

Irma is expected to landfall in Florida tomorrow, which at its current trend officials said, is likely to cause devastation across Florida and surrounding areas.

Authorities in Florida have ordered 5.6 million people a quarter of the state’s population to evacuate, warning that those who do not leave cannot expect rescue services to reach them once Irma hits.

In addition to thousands of federal employees, several thousand-military personals have been deployed by the Department of Defence to meet any eventuality in the aftermath of Irma hitting the coast of Florida.

“We need the people to listen to their local officials. But when we see evacuations taking place, what we try to do is break down the number that are going to need mass care support, and some of those numbers are well over 100,000 people in shelters for this event,” a disaster management official reportedly said.

US President Donald Trump received a briefing on Hurricane Irma today. He “was given an overview of the recent impact of the hurricane on the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and neighbouring islands and the ongoing response efforts of the Federal and territorial governments,” the White House said. A State of emergency has been declared in Florida.

Earlier in the day, Trump signed a legislation that provides an additional $15.25 billion in emergency appropriations for disaster relief and extends the authorisation of the National Flood Insurance Programme through December 8, media reports said.

France reportedly said at least 10 people have been killed across its Caribbean territories with seven more missing. Two people died on the Dutch side of the Saint Martin island.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesman tweeted telephone numbers for Indians to contact in case of emergency: Embassy of India, Venezuela (+58 4241951854/4142214721); Netherlands (+31247247247); France (0800000971), reported news agency PTI.

The Indian embassy in the Netherlands reportedly tweeted that they were in touch with the Dutch government.

The Indian embassy in Caracas in Venezuela was also monitoring the situation in Saint Martin and “coordinating the welfare of all Indians living there, media reports said.

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